Nasty fire in this area, last night. Appears one fatality.
Woman woke around 2.30 AM to hear 'popping noise, sparks and flames
from an outlet.
Managed to get herself and 12 year old out, but suffered smoke
Another young adult is missing; assumed dead.
No information yet whether anything was plugged into the outlet etc.
Or whether anything was wired non standard etc.
Indication so far seems to be that it was the outlet itself that was
House virtually total loss
Fire Commisioner's staff on site today to investiagte and probably
find remains of the missing person.
So recommend; anyone .......... if you suspect an outlet check,
immediately switch off that circuit and replace.
I find it remarkable that the US still uses wiring accessories like
the rest of the world used to use 60 years ago, and then mandates
the use of devices to detect the connections starting to burst into
flames to solve that problem of crappy wiring practice.
Mandating modern wiring would seem to me to be much more sensible.
That's how the rest of the world solved the problem of electrical
installations bursting into flames 50+ years ago.
[email address is not usable -- followup in the newsgroup]
Just out of interest, what's the deal with US socket outlets?
120VAC I know about - but how many amps max per socket and per circuit? Any
They also have some 240VAC outlets for big loads don't they Is this based on
a 120-0-120 supply?
Are RCDs (GFCIs) mandatory? Is everything 3 phase distribution (or is that 6
Managers, politicians and environmentalists: Nature's carbon buffer.
On Fri, 05 Feb 2010 20:40:31 +0000, Tim Watts wrote:
I don't recall ever seeing a fused plug over here, and they're not that
common in devices, either; most equipment seems to rely on something going
bang back at the service panel (i.e. consumer unit / fusebox) before
things catch fire.
Generally you get three types of 120V outlets:
15A neutral and 'hot' but no ground,
15A neutral, hot and (round) ground pin socket,
20A neutral, hot and ground; the neutral is a '-|' shape
#14 wire rated for 15A,
#12 for 20A
#10 for 30A
Not sure exactly what current rules are - but GFCIs are mandatory for
kitchens (at least near sinks), bathrooms, and outbuildings. I've seen
lots of complaints about the latter because of the issues they have with
chest freezers, as commonly found in garages. Lots of folk seem to
initially fit a GFCI socket there and then replace it with a normal
socket for everyday use, then swap the GFCI back if they move in order to
sell the house.
I still see a lot of good ol' fuseboxes around; we've got five on our
property, along with a couple of service panels full of more modern
Things like electric stoves usually have a plug and socket connection.
Older-style stoves (maybe some still do) adjusted temperature on the
rings by switching two elements so that they operated either singly,
together, in series or parallel on 120 or 240 volts.
Not a total truth. Some, like those intended for stoves (cookers) are
indeed extremely chunky. Others, like the NEMA 6-15 and 6-20 are very
neat. Often used for room-size air conditioners.
We recently stayed with ex-pat friends now living in California, and I
was surprised to see they had a bog-standard UK-spec 3-pin plug in the
garage, which provided 240V for the washing machine. Needless to say
the socket was in regular use for various bits of 240V kit they'd
brought over from the UK.
Would that socket have been a standard fit then, or something my friends
would have brought over from the UK and installed?
Almost certainly the latter, since in 30-odd years of visits and 5+ years
of doing DIY on my Mum's house, I've never seen anything remotely like a
UK 3 pin plug or socket in the DIY sheds/hardware stores in the US. But then,
I didn't look very hard, since I wasn't expecting there to be any...
email me, if you must, at huge huge (dot) org <dot> uk]
They'd have brought it over, though if they brought the washing machine
over as well, I wonder how it fared on the 60Hz current? There are
other questions, too, in that if it was simply the usual three wire US
supply, both legs would be live when working at 240v and the single-pole
switching of a UK socket would break only one leg.
However, there's a perfectly good NEMA series of standard 240v plugs and
sockets for the US and they're commonly used. The NEMA 6-15 is a neat
plug and a well-made one is very satisfactory.
Mostly 15A sockets IME on 20A circuits. Would be lucky to get a
rating of 2.5A @ 50V in any other country.
Yes. The outlets used for this vary.
I don't know exact regs. I believe they are mandatory in bathrooms.
It also seems to be mandatory to supply hairdriers with RCD plugs
molded on, so you often end up with both.
I found one that didn't trip in a hotel and commented on that. Got
a lot of comments back that it is very common for them not to work
and no one has noticed. They are usually 5mA trip.
You can do things such as put an earthed socket on a circuit with
no earth, if it's an RCD socket (or there's one upstream, since you
can diasy-chain from the RCD protected side).
Single phase up each street, can't recall exactly the voltages, but
values roughly between 4kV and 12kV IIRC. The single phase is typically
taken from one of 3-phases running past the ends of the streets.
These are transformed down to 120-0-120V in dustbin style transformers
up the poles, each feeding 2-4 homes (the drop wires can't go very far
because the regulation of 120V goes to pot at high currents).
The "dustbins" are famous for overheating and catching the oil alight,
raining it down on the pavement^H^H^H^H^H^H^Hsidewalk. I watched one
burning out once (1995, IIRC). They also look a bit like a beer can on
a pole to those who walk around with guns, and do get shot at. I was
involved in some telecoms kit which was being made for the US, and
the spec includes being bullet proof for exactly this reason.
[email address is not usable -- followup in the newsgroup]
from email@example.com (Andrew Gabriel) contains these words:
The trouble is that the US accessories are based on a design dating back
to 1904 and in general use by 1915 and there's never been a basic change
in that design so there's been no general forced upgrading of
installations such as has taken place in many or most other countries.
It's not at all uncommon to find post and wire installations still
functioning (individual insulated conductors on porcelain insulators).
Yes - years ago, I was helping my Dad run some new wiring in his house,
and we discovered that the original knob-and-tube stuff was still there
- and still in use. The house dated from the turn of the last century,
and also contained still-connected gas lines for lighting. Some of the
light fixtures on the top floor were combos, with both gas and electric
fittings. Scary stuff!
Hmm, I've not heard of that requirement around here, but outlets this side
of the Pond are indeed pretty crappy - over time the connections for plug
pins go really sloppy.
Matters aren't helped by too many installations where folk have used the
"back stab" connections, either (where you just push the bare wire in and
in theory it grips) rather than the screw terminals on the sides of the
outlet. Heat and vibration and house movement (lots of timber-framed
structures here) aren't kind to them.
About the only time I've come across these has been within some
fluorescent luminaires. An horrible assembly method obviously devised
Reminds me of the rubber things used to hold tea-towels on the side of
a 'kitchen-unit' in the seventies.
TBH, I don't like 'wire-wrap' stuff either, although many swear by it.
Give me proper (and properly) soldered joints every time...
(And none of this 'lead-free' solder!).
The mantra should be:- 'make a joint that doesn't need soldering, then
Nothing wrong with them in principle - like any wire termination what's
needed is to keep the wire in good contact with the terminal body. A
spring is equally as capable of doing this as a screw. After all it's the
way a plug and socket works.
*Some days you're the dog, some days the hydrant.
Dave Plowman firstname.lastname@example.org London SW
On Thu, 04 Feb 2010 23:56:44 +0000, Frank Erskine wrote:
Exactly. It's OK so long as nobody sneezes near it, but prone to failure
otherwise. Of course screws can come loose, too, but at least in that
situation the stripped end of the wire would have to 'uncoil' around the
screw shaft for the joint to fail completely. Shorts seem very unlikely,
and the screw terminals on US outlets are designed in such a way that
there's not much chance of the wire wobbling and sparking.
I was also amazed the first time I saw a wire nut on house wiring in the
US; I thought I was looking at someone's bodge, but no - it's all done
like that. Urgh.
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